Bristol-Myers Squibb has bagged the rights to an investigational HIV treatment, festinavir, being developed by Japan's Oncolys BioPharma.

The US major is acquiring exclusive global rights to to manufacture, develop and commercialise festinavir, a once-a-day, orally-available nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, which is in Phase II. Cashwise, Oncolys may receive up to $286 million including upfront, development, regulatory and sales milestone payments, plus tiered royalties.

The new partners noted that early preclinical studies suggest that festinavir,  licensed to Oncolys in 2006 from Yale University, could have an improved safety profile over previous generations of NRTIs. Brian Daniels, senior vice president of development at B-MS, said the "the profile of festinavir offers the possibility of improvement in the safety of long-term HIV treatment, an area of significant unmet medical need".